Enlisting Ben Domenech

I’d like to enlist Ben Domenech to help with the war against Iraq. This time I mean it literally. I think he should do what Elvis did and enlist in the Army.

He’s 24 years old, a huge supporter of the war in Iraq, a huge supporter of President Bush, and well, he’s found himself out of work.

Oyeadsm Not just out of work, but with a reputation in tatters. He was hired, you may recall, by the Washington Post to write a young-white-republican column, ostensibly to balance Froomkin’s neocon target practice.

That’s what passes for “balance” in today’s media: giving equal time to anyone, no matter how crazy and baseless their side is. In that regard, they’re more like the conservatives than anything else: it’s the tactic that the religious freakos employed to get any sort of airtime for “Intelligent” Design. Never mind that evolution is as close to scientific fact as anything, but the media was terrified of looking biased by ignoring the baseless “other side”. So Intelligent Design got more than the ridicule it deserved.

Sticker So someone started a bigger initiative, Operation Yellow Elephant quite some time ago, suggesting that all these young republicans who were so in support of the war and of our troops get off their asses, stop buying yellow ribbons and bumperstickers and radio antenna American flags and put their money where there whining snivelling mouths are and enlist.

I could pawn off my ineligibility by saying I’m soon-to-be 42 years old and that I’m an out and proud homosexual, so, y’know, they’d never take me, but honestly? I don’t support the invasion and occupation and I wouldn’t take part in it. My personal ethics wouldn’t allow me to. On that basis, I’d never really call for all those republicans to go and enlist.

However, I have no problem suggesting that Ben could really get credibility back by enlisting and getting over there to fight his good fight here. Let’s face it, he can only preach to his crazy-choir now, so his skills at hating Muslims and being super-duper-patriotic (when really, he’s just a nationalist xenophobe) by literally fighting the “war” on terror.

Do you think he will?

Given that his apology for his past plagiarism (and from, among others, Salon.com, no less!) involved blaming his editors and lying about permission from P.J. O’Rourke, it wasn’t much of an apology after all. And of course his bleating, screeding, echoing rightwingnut blogosphere are all calling him a man of integrity for having come clean about it. Riiiiiiight. They’re also blaming the liberals for attacking him and finding out in 3 days time that he plagiarized.

As the message of the conservatives gets more and more abstract because, let’s face it, those ideologues need to be as far away from concrete, checkable facts as they can be these days. And what better way to avoid fact-facing than to blame the messengers for their motives?

Enlist, Private[ization] Benjamin. We’ll all respect you instantly if you do. You’re 24, you’re strong, you believe!

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Where Went Wednesday?

So, yesterday morning I was scheduled for an MRI. It had been scheduled since a week ago, and since a week ago I’ve been quite apprehensive about having the MRI. Oh, not because of expected bad results or anything like that, but because I know myself to be claustrophobic in that situation.

Rewind about thirteen years. I had just moved to IL (don’t ask) or was about to, and I was visiting my friend Dan. Back then he was the manager for a fleet of mobile MRI trucks (the economics of the time/region did not permit each hospital to have its own MRI kit) and he took me into one of them to show me how it all worked. Plexusdissection“Hop on,” he said, “let’s take a picture.” So I climbed onto the pad and he started moving me, head first, into the tunnel formed by the center of the toroidal magnet.

I wasn’t in further than my chest when I started to freak out, yelling for him to pull me back out. He did, immediately, offering that lots of people were claustrophobic and I shouldn’t be freaked out by it.

“I’m not claustrophobic,” I replied.

Riiiiight.

So I’d been anxious for days, coupled with the nausea I’ve been having because of the new meds or the progress of the healing, or whatever (I missed a birthday party and an Equinox party this past weekend because of it), I ended up not sleeping at all the night before the MRI.

I’d had a visit to my regular doc this past Monday and told her of my anxiety. She gave me ativan and told me to take two about 30 minutes before the MRI. And that if I wasn’t feeling the effects of it, take another.

So, right before I walked into the MRI suite I took that extra ativan tablet.

The tech was amazingly understanding; after I told her about my apprehension and the fact that I had some ativan in me, she told me that I could get out of it whenever I wanted, and that they could reschedule me, and not to worry about being in any way “required” to stay inside if I panicked. This had the (likely intended) effect of making me that much more relaxed. I’m sure the ativan’s increasing hold on me helped, too.

I remember the loud noises; I remember they were multi-tonal. I remember drifting off and thinking that the sounds of the machinery were actually voices repeating a thing. I remember the plastic shoulder girdle and the pillow stuffed between my left arm and the wall of the MRI chamber. I remember the voice of the tech for the first few images of the first study (I was there for two separate studies: one of the shoulder, one of the brachial plexus).

I don’t remember them taking me out of the chamber to refit me for the second study. I don’t remember them releasing me. I remember getting in the car with Sam when he came to get me, but I don’t remember calling him on the phone beforehand. I didn’t remember seeing Frank or rob or Jeff or ordering a coffee in the Castro. I didn’t remember writing an email to Mikey telling him how the MRI went. I don’t remember talking to my mom online. I don’t remember much of anything else about yesterday except that I slept when I got home, from probably about 11am (I say this solely by extrapolating from the timestamp on the email I’d sent to Michael). I woke up at almost midnight.

I slept again from about seven this morning until about 11:30am.

I’m sure it’s going to take me several more days to even out the loss of Wednesday.

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I’m a Big Gay Homosexual

Through the continuing novelty of HDTV—and no thanks to the crappy HD DVR software on the Comcast box—I discovered a digital broadcast of something whose on-screen guide name was “Channing and Pearl Bailey”. Being the good little gay boy I have always been, I instantly made the connection: Channing was Carol Channing, she of Hello, Dolly! fame. My favorite musical, my favorite Dolly Levi. My favorite favorite favorite of all the Original Cast Recordings my own Auntie Mame owned. Others included Cabaret, Fiddler on the Roof, Mame, Camelot and Man of La Mancha.

So I hit the Record button on the remote to capture “Carol Channing and Pearl Bailey on Broadway”, something the info section of the guide told me was actually a special that aired on ABC-TV in 1969. Specifically in January of 1969. I was 4 then, and by then could already—at least phonetically—sing all three languages of Wilkommen! from Cabaret and could mimic Dolly Levi’s Yonkahz aaaccent with a preciseness that seems to come naturally to our people. I would stand on tip-toes at my Aunt’s console stereo, fingers gripping the edge as I peeked over to watch the vinyl disc spin, watch the needle arm sway and rise and fall with the warps on the record, watch the lint accumulate on the soft triangular brush on the tip of the needle arm (which trailed the needle itself—bad design!).

When I watched the show, there were moments when I got the chills—not because of the astoundingly resilient performance of Bailey or the electrifying antics of Carol Channing, but because the melody lines filling the room had filled my heart—and, dare I say, filled my soul—so early on.

Very possibly this is where I learned that music isn’t a thing to enjoy so much as an integral, organic part of Being. It picks up where ordinary words fail and certain note intervals are spaces through which the Face of Eternity may be seen.

It was interesting, also, from an historical and even short-throw anthropological (hi, Ted!) sense: the outfits the audience wore. The hairstyles. What could be gotten away with on television in 1969. What can no longer be gotten away with in 2006! That Carol Channing was only 48 years old and Pearl Bailey only 51. That they were 48 and 51 and could dance and sing and glide and glissando so gracefully and forcefully and without a net. The genius of Broadway of that era.

But mainly, the magic was all in them singing popular showtunes of the time; the show finished off with both in red sequined gowns, both as their own respective Dolly’s.

Nothing props up the notion of a continuous-me throughout my own history than the music that I’ve known and felt as long as I’ve known or felt just about anything.

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Department of Heteroland Security

From the Associated Press, via Salon:

The White House said Wednesday a revised policy on granting security clearances to gays and lesbians does not reflect a change in how the government will treat sexual orientation.

The big—perhaps the only!—question is: then why fucking change it?

Children and the “War” on “Terror” are the two reasons that Republicans use like a body shield. In other words, they peddle fear.

The original language of the executive order originally stated that sexual orientation “may not be used as a basis” for denying clearances or determining whether individuals should be eligible to access to classified information unless, of course, it could make them vulnerable to coercion or exploitation. Ironically, that means that gay people who are already out of the closet have eliminated the largest vulnerability to such coercion or exploitation.

The new language reads that gays and lesbians may not be denied clearance or access “solely on the basis of the sexual orientation of the individual.”

The “conservatives” are doing the same thing here that they put in place with all of the “sex offender” machinery: they legislate specific and far-flung punishments based on abstract and overbroad conditions. Look to Iowa, where people are forced to move from their own homes because they’d bought places or rented places that have suddenly become “sex-offender-free” zones. Never mind that a “sex offense” might be solicitation or consensual adult sex in places deemed inappropriate, such an “offender” could still not be able to live within a certain radius of a school, for example.

And so it is with the new language in the security laws. They broadened and abstracted something that was succinct and absolute. They’ve created a situation where they can discriminate against gays by being cowards and pawning it off on some other “reason”. You’ll see the Christians jumping all over this one, just like “hoody” did with the revisiting of the killing of Matthew Shepard. They’ll do anything to prevent the engendering of sympathy or empathy towards homosexuals.

Watch the rhetoric and see.

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Our New Mac mini

Indextop20060228

Our new toy. Strange. It looks like a tin that might hold some fancy cookies; it looks like a stand-alone DVD player; it comes with a teensy remote control that has six buttons.

Frontrowremote20050228They managed to squeeze in an IR port in the front without messing with the minimalist front of the unit. The remote runs Front Row, which provides a unified interface to all our our music and our photos and porn home movies.

There are two CPU cores in it, with 1GB of RAM, an 80GB hard drive (it’s a laptop-form-factor hard drive) and a DVD burner which is slot-loading and burns every type of blank DVD media known to humankind, including dual-layer).

The only monitor the mini is hooked up to is our HDTV; it makes less noise than the Comcast DVR does and actually fits under the TV next to the TV’s pedestal stand. Crazy.

And? It’s the very first Intel-based machine I’ve ever purchased!

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There & Then, Here & Now

I like a story I can inhabit. I suppose it requires a certain amount of confidence in one’s primary reality to walk into other worlds in other stories and stay for a bit and return from them. Otherwise, you’re just a nerd or a Trekker or a Jedi or…something.

Just as Anne Rice—for whatever other failings you might want to ascribe to her—can carry me into the dead weight of a heavy humid New Orleans night or the strident, stentorian spray of a cold Pacific Ocean just outside the protection of our Bay with just a few well-placed words; or as Frank Herbert could create a lush and verdant Dune; or as Joss Whedon can squirt you through a lens into Sunnydale or onto Serenity; so J.K. Rowling sends me to Hogwarts and Little Whinging, Surrey, and a secret London with the wave of a wand and her incantatory prose.

In forms that depart significantly from the quotidian reality we all mundanely mostly agree upon, archetypes are employed to give us guideposts in a strange land. It’s those more gifted with a sense of story that can flesh out the archetypes into believable, companionable, sympathetic characters. It’s the rare few who can further weave those characters into those with whome we can feel empathy as they are driven along plot lines that keep us engaged, keep our wills suspending disbelief and skiving the fictive nature of that narrative.

At the time when Harry Potter was the “latest thing”, a cultural explosion in and of itself, I steered clear of it. I didn’t buy the books, I didn’t see the movies. Friends went on opening day because they wanted to be “part of it all”. I wanted no part of it—perhaps, as I see now, for the very same reason.

I saw the first Harry Potter movie on DVD in Tucson, I believe. Sam and his Lesbian had rented it. I may be wrong about the details, but suffice it to say, I sort of fell into watching it instead of having made the effort to engage in it.

Of course I bought the DVD, and the second one as well, as it was out already. And soon after, the third. Tomorrow, I’ll buy the fourth.

If you look at the left column on the main page you’ll see the books I’ve been reading. The last five are Harry Potter books. My friend Steve gave me his boxed set of the first three and made sure I had Books Four, Five and Six awaiting me before I finished Three.

I don’t find myself wishing I were Dumbledore or Harry, or any of the others, but I do see facets of myself in each of the characters (that would be where the archetypes come in) I also see the same million little nuances in each of the characters that I see when I meet someone new.

When the books conclude I’ll be sad (I’ve just finished Order of the Phoenix today, so no [more] spoilers, please!), but I won’t be despondent like the Trekkers or the Comicon-types get. It will just be nice to have known these people, and sad that we have to part ways.

The best kinds of escapism are the ones that bring you right back to here and to now with a better sensitivity and fidelity to those million little nuances that make you who you are.

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Brokedown Oscar

Hollywood isn’t as brave as it thinks it is.

Hollywood isn’t as bold as the right thinks it is.

Hollywood isn’t as blunt as some of us think it should be.

To show clips from Brokeback Mountain where it’s largely each male lead with their respective wives instead of with each other is cowardice.

To paint Crash as something other than an overwrought interpretive dance about reality is crass.

Brokeback Mountain is distruptive not because it tries to make a Statement About Love, but because it doesn’t make a statement.

“Show me, don’t tell me” is the first rule of story. Some might say it’s the only rule and the rest are corollary.

Rightwingers out there were going to criticize the Oscars one way or another. Since everyone expected Brokeback Mountain to win, they were all focused on how Hollywood supports the gay agenda and is “out of touch”. Now, I suppose, they’ll find something else.

But who ever expects Hollywood to be in touch? The Chronicles of Narnia is somehow an “in touch” kinda thing?

I mostly agree with George Clooney in his acceptance speech that Hollywood has done productive work by being out of touch. Then again, it took until 1993 to come out with Philadelphia and even then they couldn’t be buggered to show a real relationship between two men. AIDS had been around for too, too long even then.

And it took them until 2005 to show real passion and love between two men, something else that’s been around for a long, long time.

All that said, I’d rather have a Hollywood that is out of touch and demands that we follow towards a Utopia, rather than a Hollywood that regresses to an “in touch” martinet that is nothing but an echo chamber for the status quo.

That road leads to stagnation…and to LiveJournal.

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WordPress vs. Movable Type

I’ve been poking my nose in and around WordPress just to get a sense of things.

Personally, I prefer “just in time” technologies, which WordPress uses (i.e., you don’t have to rebuild your site when you make changes, because the site is automatically generated at each request from a browser), in particular, it uses PHP.

I like Movable Type because this site is already using it; I also like it because its templates are just that: templates. Since WP uses PHP everywhere, its templates are actually PHP files, which is kind of a weird impedance mismatch (apologies to Simon).

WordPress is free, but so is Movable Type for the uses I have for it.

Siiiigh. I wish i weren’t on neurontin. My brain works at least 50% better without it.

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iDependence

Good. Lord. God. Of. Biscuits.

Two-plus days without internet connectivity at the house.

Thank the Goddess for hills (for line of sight) and open Airport networks…but it all required braving the cold and strong winds and standing at the gas grill out back while making sure the iBook didn’t fall over.

Comical, except for the utter trauma of no internet!

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